Beyond Silk: A Re-Evaluation Of Jin Painting (1115 - 1234)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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East Asian Languages & Civilizations
Asian Studies
History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
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This dissertation is a study of painting from China’s Jin dynasty (1115 – 1234). It presents a systematic analysis of painted works on silk, paper, and temple and tomb walls. Although the Jin dynasty lasted for 119 years, Jin painting is treated often as a footnote to the more highly revered painting of the Northern and Southern Song dynasties (960 – 1279). This marginalization is largely due to the lack of paintings on silk and paper which traditionally form the core of Chinese painting history, and is compounded further by the fact that the Jin was ruled by an ethnically non-Han group, the Jurchen. This dissertation establishes Jin painting as its own cultural phenomenon and seeks an understanding of Jin painting beyond silk. First, the dissertation suggests that in order to grasp the richness and diversity of Jin painting history, we must examine the interfaces between different painting contexts and cultures. Second, this dissertation proposes an alternate framework for understanding Jin painting based on geographic regions and centers of painting culture, rather than dynastic chronology. These arguments are outlined in four chapters The first chapter addresses paintings on silk and paper and brings together a core group of Jin landscape paintings. The second chapter examines tomb murals and how northern funerary painting traditions were preserved and permutated in Jin China. The third chapter examines the twelfth century temple hall murals at Yanshansi and highlights the murals’ place as a crossroads between regional painting idioms and courtly painting. Finally, the fourth chapter examines landscape murals from Yulin Cave 3 created under the Xia state (1038 – 1227) and suggests that there was a shared visual culture in twelfth-to-thirteenth-century north and northwestern China. This shared visual culture allows Jin and Xia painting to be viewed within a framework that does not revolve around the dichotomy of Northern and Southern Song court and literati painting. In doing so, this dissertation situates Jin painters as central, active participants in Chinese painting history and demonstrates the flourishing of painting beyond silk and paper under Jurchen rule.

Nancy S. Steinhardt
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